Saturday, January 28, 2017

The last of 2016. Rayon Top, Butterick 6175

This week I am posting the last of my unblogged 2016 makes.  This was the first version I made of Butterick 6175:

I showed you the second version, made in cotton, last week.  It looks quite different to this one, which is made in a soft, drapey, rayon chirramen.  If you want to look at the cotton version, you will find it by clicking here.  I also describe the changes I made to the pattern in that post.

So I will just move on with this top now.  It looks a little different from the picture on the pattern envelope as this fabric has a lot of drape and movement, and I also lengthened the top about 3 cm.  Short tops do not work for me.

I really liked the bell sleeves, and I love them in this material. All drape and sway:

 The top is a bit that way as well - and you can see how I have a high chest and straight sides as the top rides up at the front and down at the sides - very obvious in this fabric, not so obvious in the cotton fabric. Still, this does not bother me, I think it sort of adds to the look, and the fabric is so fluid and slippery it is going to ride up on my high chest whatever I do.

So, I will just move on now to show you the pictures:

This top is a much needed dressy addition to my wardrobe. While my life is very casual now, and I live in a very casual sort of place, there are times you want to look dressier but not too much so. This top fits the bill nicely.  And if I go to Sydney, I can easily dress this top up.  I look for maximum versatility in my wardrobe.

The skirt is made by me as well.  It's a lovely little Kwik Sew Pattern and it my stand by for quick straight skirts. This skirt is a stretch cotton sateen.  If you want to see the skirts I have made using  Kwik Sew 3765, please click here.

Well, that's it for this week, and that's it finally for 2016.

Replies to your comments. 

Before I go, I just want to thank you for your comments last week.  I think I may install Disquis soon, as I think that will work, and then look at any points you raise that would work nicely for a blog conversation.  I have found that raising your points in a blog post works well, but I think I also want the communication versatility of a platform like Disquis.  I also wonder about Wordpress.  What are your thoughts about these two platforms, and does it bother you if I use either of these?

Style Notebook.

I want to develop this idea on a regular basis on this blog.  I am busy with a lot of paperwork at work at the moment, so can't really start this until March. 

That's it for now, I'll be back next week with the pants that fit nicely.  Yes, the holy grail of pants making has finally arrived, for me at least. Actually, I think the holy grail was forced out of hiding, because I have spent lots of time and energy trying to work out how to fit my funny little shape. More next week...

Have a wonderful week everyone, wherever you are.

Sarah Liz

Friday, January 20, 2017

New Top Butterick 6175, Skirt NewLook 6129, and Style Matters cont'd.

My recent spell of sewing muslins and then black, black, black, left me a little depleted on the sewing enjoyment side.  While I was stuck in the long tunnel of black, I saw a vibrant little cotton craft print at Spotlight, for $4.00 per metre - it was already on sale and then it was a 40% off day too. So for $3.60 a piece of cotton was whisked into my bag, ready for my therapeutic sewing post black.  I had also decided to make top from this fabric for our  January Make a Garment a Month theme.

I had a pattern that I knew would work for this top. Butterick 6175, which I had already made in quite a different fabric - but have not yet posted.  Next week, I promise...

When I first made this top, I was dubious about the shape.  It looked so shapeless and boxy, a bit like me, really, so I thought it would make me look even more boxy.  I did lengthen the top to avoid this happening too much.  But I was not sure how this would work in a firm weave, so was still a little dubious.

I cut size 12, but the back armholes were recut to size 10 as the back was strangely wide.  The back opening was very long, so I shortened it.  I added a rouleau loop and button - the pattern suggests a thread loop, but I find rouleau loops much easier to make. I made a larger loop and used a larger button - easier to do up!  and the fabric could take it.  I seamed the neck at 3/8 inch as necks are usually too wide on me.  The finished neckline looked the same as that shown in the picture.  The pattern did actually use a facing at the neckline.  I lengthened the top by 1.75 inches (about 4 cms)

If I made the top again, I would lower the front of the neckline - these high, slightly boatish necklines look lovely, but are a little obvious against the throat.  Okay for sit down jobs, or for going out, but would annoy me for more active tasks.

I took these pictures early this morning and had just dried my hair - and it is frizzy today, the weather has been so humid.  There will be a storm later today...  And I look as tired as I feel - it has been a busy week.  And hot...

So that is the top, which I think is very effective.  It is not the right colour for me, but I don't care, I like it anyway!

As for the skirt, I made this late last year, from a $2.50 remnant of cotton broadcloth.  In March of every year, I always feel like wearing a cool pink skirt.  They look so fresh, and I sort of feel that by March, after a very humid and stormy February, that this is the right sort of colour to revive the sapped spirit.  So, when I saw the remnant, I knew straight away it was for me.

I used a pattern I have used before, New Look 6129.

And I chose the version with pockets, of course:

If you want to see the earlier posts on this skirt, please click on this link.

Replies to your comments.

I am going to do a one reply sort of reply for all of you this week - I have had lots of work to do, and am pressed for time.

Thank you everyone for your kind comments about my husband's blacks - he has not stop wearing them on the weekend and has found the pockets in the pants - loves them!  Hands are always in them, which probably means repairs one day...sigh.  And those of you that have sewn for men also seem to think it is quite different too.  And your empathy with sewing black...

Oh, special note for Patricia -a cheap machine for a back up is fine, for what it is.  It will sew, but it will be very basic.


I am going to try and do a regular post about style. So far, your comments indicate that some of you are like me - a little unsure about style at home, and some of you are a lot more assured in choosing garments for wearing at home.  And some people have always loved clothes - I did too, as a teenager, but had to put all those desires aside when I started nursing at 17 - we grew up quickly in those days!

It seems to me that we have certain themes emerging - some of you have worn uniforms most of your working life and have now retired and face style challenges. Some of you still work and wear uniforms and want a comfortable but stylish wardrobe for wearing at home - where you also do chores. And some of you at home are not retired, but have been unfortunate enough to lose your employment, or are  but otherwise occupied with children, caring  or household demands,   have struggled with motivation to dress nicely.

And some of you have started tossing out clothes that are really passed their use by date.

Other themes emerging are insecurity with choosing styles - this often happens as we get older.  The other theme emerging is how we feel about what we wear at home.

Another idea I was intrigued about was the idea of letting go.  Maybe we all need to let go of all sorts of stuff that is also impacting on style.  It can be challenging to do this.

So, please allow me a couple of weeks to put together some ideas...

In the meantime, I shall share what I have done this week - I have created little wardrobe blocks - a set of clothes for loungewear in the evening - just a t shirt and rayon jogger pants.  That way, I have something to go to quickly, and something that looks good.

For daytime, if I am working from home, I have black cotton pants and an assortment of tops that I can wear.  And dresses, especially if it is hot.

I am not worrying about whether the style is me, or the colour suits me, I am just making sure I look neat and presentable, and am not just throwing on the same old things again with no thought.  That's an old habit entrenched from my earliest working days.

So for those of you stuck in a rut with what to wear at home, what about putting together a few go to outfits. And for those of you that want to wear something comfortable and stylish at home, but don't know what - what about starting to collect pictures of things you like?  Pinterest is also a good place to put style pictures.

We will talk more in later blog post...

That's it for now, wishing you all a wonderful weekend

Sarah Liz

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Sewing Week, And Continuing Style at Home, Does it Matter.

Hello everyone,

Yes, I know you have seen this top and pants before, but my post this week doesn't have much in the way of pretty pictures.  And, as we are talking about Style at Home, Does it Matter, I thought I would post a picture of one of the tops I wore this week, except with another pair of pants.  The original post with the details of the pattern can be found here... (along with other sewing bits and pieces). And photos of my sewing this week are a little drab, so I had to post something a little more eye catching!

This week , in part one of the post, I am going to show you what I have been sewing.  In part two, I have posted an extended reply to your comments from last week's post (Style at Home, Does it Matter, and the Peplum top).

Anyway, as the reply to your comments is extensive, I'll just quickly show you what I have been busy sewing since Christmas.   A wear at home cool version of what my DH calls "Blacks".  Normally a t shirt and thick drill pants in summer and some sort of fleecy and track pants in winter, although I notice that last winter he was wearing the jumper I knitted some years ago.  Note to self, must make another one day.

So, as our weather is humid here, I thought I would risk making DH "Blacks" in a linen/cotton woven, which as we all know, is nice and cool.  I also thought it would teach me something about how to fit his shape, because measurements don't tell the whole story.  This is the result:

(I've chopped his head off on purpose - he wishes for anonymity...)

This simple little almost pyjama outfit took a lot of effort.  Just sewing the main garment took what seemed forever - men are much larger creatures, and this makes for much longer adds up.

Plus all seams were flat felled, always fiddly. Except the inner leg.

And, prior to that I made 4 calico's - 2 shirts, 2 trousers.

(and if you are wondering, I use any old sheets for this process, or even hideous bilious green seersucker I found somewhere buried - I think it was  70's era tablecloth).

The patterns I used were, for the trousers, a very basic elastic waist trouser from New Look patterns, long ago discontinued:

 Now, I am not sure why I had a scrubs pattern in my stash, given I don't wear scrubs, but the pants were in man sizes.  I was sort of curious though, if they were for either sex, what happens about the extra needed at the front with the male anatomy?

I needn't have worried, because there was plenty of room.  I checked on a RTW pair, to get the depth, and it was the same.  I cut and made the first calico. But as per usual for New Look trousers,  the amount of ease in the leg area was huge, and as you can see from looking at DH, he is not a small build.  And the bottom area was too small, so I did an adjustment to the pattern, and took the legs in.  He also wanted more in the back rise.  So I did calico number 2.

And that was in addition to the shirt, which was a McCall's basic:

This is a very basic pattern, and doesn't have a collar stand and separate front button band.  It uses a cut on facing, not my favourite thing.  But I thought the open sort of collar would be cooler.  And I am not yet ready to tackle proper shirt making.  Next Christmas, maybe...

I thought size L would be big enough, and so my first calico was size L.  Now that was a good fit through the neck  and shoulders, but there was not enough for chest and torso. Sigh, onto calico number 2, because I did want to make sure the garment would fit before cutting into nice fabric.  I cut size XL sides grading into the armscye.

By now, I was a little over this whole idea of sewing "Blacks".  The  "Greens" had already got to me.

Anyway, onwards...

The shirt has a back pleat for movement:

I decided on a contrast yoke instead of black inside the shirt:

Pocket in the shirt for hankies and things:

Anyway, thank goodness I have finished this.  All that black was mighty tedious to sew.  Black, Black, and more Black:

Anyway, it is all finished and being worn.  I joked it was like a little Chinese suit. DH corrected me and said they have little high collars. He said it was more like the sort of thing the Viet Cong wore, and they won.  He was quite cheerful about the winning aspect.  Must be the competitive male gene these Alpha males seem to have.

So, it seems, on multiple fronts, a winner.  I have learnt about DH's shape, and what to do for future, more likely to be secret, makes.  Like, a shirt. A Proper Shirt.  I want to make a proper shirt next Christmas, and now I know what size to make.  And, as for proper trousers, at the moment, I am not that ambitious, not yet.  Or maybe I know my limitations.

Suffice it to say, for now I am seriously over Black cotton and linen. There is a small bit left over that I am going to use in a dress, but just at the moment, I can't face sewing any more plain black.

So I am going to restore myself by making something very simple first:

That should get me back into the spirit of things.

Now, it's time to

Reply to your comments - Peplum Top: 

( The post about this top can be found here).

Your comments about the Burda patterns peplum top - thank you everyone.  Yes, you are all correct, this needs to be made in a softer fabric.  Still, for a pattern test, I am happy.     I'm still not sure about the style, but I will wash it a few times - cotton will often soften if you do that, and wear it and see what I think.  I do have some ideas about how I might make this work for me.  I hope that I find time to go back to this pattern and rework it :). And yes, what I wear it with will improve the look - thanks for all your suggestions.  I never thought of shorts!  Planning a warmer version to wear over slim pants (transitional). Whether this happens or not is a matter of time and competing sewing interests :), Summer Flies - I think this top would work for you, it is an A line shape.  And you are right, it would look great extended into a dress.  And Catherine, I think I have seen your top on Pattern Review - it looked very nice. As for colour, in real life it does not wash me out, but cameras and lights prefer stronger colours.  But I think my personality is not pastel, if that makes sense.

(Hmm, now I think the top is growing on me.  Might just be a matter of adjusting to it).

(Style at Home, Does it Matter, and the Burda Peplum Top) Your comments about Style at Home, does it matter?

(The post about Style at Home - Does it Matter, can be found here).

Thank you for your comments.  You have all made some really interesting points and observations, and I think over the next few months it will be fun to expand on some of these.  I'll try and do it in a way that involves everyone.  But for now, yes, Patricia, style at home has really changed - from your mother's era, where ladies made house dresses, two or three, plus the wearing of aprons.  My mother was probably of the same era, different country though, and she said that every season you invested in a best outfit, wore it for the season when you went out.  Year 2 it became second best, shopping and so on.  Year 3 it was wear at home!  But in our casual era, anything seems to go.  And I think we grew up with uniforms and then any old thing was worn at home, including hand me downs.  I think some of us never lost the habit!  And also, we think of home as a place to relax now, whereas I don't think my mother had those sort of illusions.  And when we are young, we go to work, then come home and relax in casual attire - and many of us still do, after work.  And then some of us are more home based, and struggling with what to wear so we look and feel good, but are functional as well.

Some of you, like me (Judy, Dawn, Regina, Catherine) wear or have a background of wearing uniforms to work, and want to wear stylish or comfortable home wear that can incorporate chores of perhaps quiet evening out. I quite agree, we shall have to explore together.  Dawn has the good idea of wearing knit dresses or pinafores, an idea I might investigate  later (I bought a pattern yesterday for a knit dress to wear at home - we shall see if it happens!)Keisha has a well developed sense of style (in my opinion) and is able to make clothes for her work setting and weekend wear that is consistent with her style. I admire this! Annie, you know what you like to wear to work, but also want comfort at home.    Louise, I think you do have a sense of style, but of course, life changes and style does too.  And moods - yes, they do affect what we choose to wear. The converse too - if we feel down and make the effort to put on something nice, we feel better about ourselves. Ruthie, you had similar feelings - and if you are at home all day, you can become demoralised and isolated.  Once again, wearing something nicer, even if it is a sort of uniform for home would be a great idea. Diane (Remembering Oz) makes this point well, in saying that our self esteem can be linked to what we wear.  I'd like to add that many people think high self esteem will then enable you to choose nicer clothes to wear, but it is the opposite.  Higher self esteem comes with the doing of something, so if you feel low, wear something nice, and you may have a better self esteeem.  Janine, you are right, tossing stained garments is a good thing to do - I regularly do this. And yes, there are occasions, where even stained clothing is appropriate and style isn't - farming, home renovations, and so on. And I chuckle at the comments about answering the doorbell in night attire or dressing gowns.  I find it bad enough in track suit pants and top!

And I think Carolyn (who blogs here, at Handmade by Carolyn) . came up with a great idea as well.  So much so, that I am going to put the comment here:

This is an interesting post Sarah; but honestly I feel like you should let go and wear whatever you want; being at home gives you the freedom to do that. Just one of the reasons I sew for myself because I love fashion, peruse it at any opportunity, have these visions of what I want to create, and I feel very fortunate that like you, I CAN wear them anything I want, any day I like. If that means donning a snazzy frock to take out the bins or do the grocery shopping or mow the lawn or take the animals to the vet so be it. The only times I will wear mucky old clothes is if I'm really doing something grotty, like heavy gardening. I say; free yourself from expectations and limitations, just wear the amazing stuff, and enjoy it :)

Well, I think there is much to be said for this approach.  I think we can get a little bogged down in what we think we should wear, instead of just enjoying what we wear.  So many of us that have worn uniforms and followed rules that I do think a little bit of letting go is in order. And perhaps even more proactively, a little bit of identity redefinition that suits my life stage now. Now that could be fun. And I have to admit, that when I was young, I loved fashion and fashion magazines.   I even wore blue toe  nail polish, during the 70's.  I had to wear uniforms though, so there was little time to pursue fashion.  Life though took me in other directions, so maybe I also need to reacquaint my current self with my past self.   And for those of you at home for whatever reasons who feel demotivated may like to think about Carolyn's approach as well.  We only have now, after all, whatever the now is for us.

And last, but not least, I knew you would catch up with this post Marianne.  Most of us are busy and catch up with blogs when we can.  You are right, function, pretty and stylish can be achievable for home, but it seems many of us are a little lost on how to achieve this - or maybe we just are not letting ourselves.  Your lovely Donna Karan jacket may well, with some of us, be consigned to best, and never worn. But as you say, it is just a ponte, and can be worn around the house.  I think we should all try and emulate your attitude when doing the household chores.  And I agree, it would be wonderful to live closer to each other - I am sure many of us wish that. Then no household chores would be done while we all chat about sewing to each other.

Hmm, I do like that idea.  In the meantime, I'll catch up with you next week.

Wishing you all a great week,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Style at Home - Does it Matter or Not? and a New Top, Burda 6761.

 Hello everyone, This week, I have written quite a long blog post, so be warned! I am going to talk about Style at Home, Does it Matter or Not.  You will find this section in part two of todays blog post.  In part one, I am sharing a very at home look - my first make of the year, Burda 6761:

I was strangely drawn to this unusual peplum style top, goodness knows why, because it is not really something that I have ever considered to be my style.  But as 2017 is going to be a year of exploration, I decided I would go with the strangely drawn to the pattern feeling and make it.  I had a piece of craft cotton in my stash that I have wanted to get rid of for ages, so decided I would sacrifice it in the service of trialing this pattern and getting it out of the system and the cotton out of the stash.

I did do a head and shoulders muslin first, because I took one look at the neckline and knew it would fall off me.  It goes right across in a boat shape. I wanted to keep a sense of the shape, because I thought that worked to balance the dropped shoulder line, but I wanted it to stay on.  I also thought the neckline was too high, so I lowered it.  I didn't see the need for an opening, and made sure the neck was just big enough to fit over my head.  I used a facing instead of binding and top stitched that down because I thought that would work with the look of the top and help to break up the wide expanse of front:

It also makes the facing look a deliberate feature and not some sort of thing flopping around inside.

The top was straightforward to make, but if you ever make it, do follow the instructions.  Usually I do n't follow instructions, and make the darts first, but in this  top the front seams incorporate the front dart:

On the right side of the garment I did a catch stitch to hold the seam in place:

 I flat felled the back seam, side seams and shoulder seams, because craft cotton looks a little dead on it's own.  And I substituted short sleeves for the three quarter length - I just find them annoying in summer.

Now, my set of pictures shows me looking very glum.  Early in the morning and I am also doing the washing, getting ready to do some shopping etc.  In fact, I am haven't had my first cup of coffee, I am drinking it while taking these photos.  No wonder I look glum, plus I am really not sure that this is my style of top.

And I am afraid the back view was all blurry, so all I have is an action shot, to show how easy this top is to move and do things in:

Well, I after finishing the top, I decided it has some potential but maybe in another fabric that is a little less stiff.  I don't think I would want to make it in linen, one of the suggested fabrics - it wouldn't look any better. I still don't really think it is my style, but makes a change, and really, with all that lovely room to move, great for the garden and other active sorts of chores:

But I think this top is more my style for casual around the house, also a Burda top:

I'm even smiling more, either because the caffeine is arriving, or I happen to know this is a better look for me!  The posts for this top can be found here. 


This week I am taking a break from posting details of a recently made garment because I want to talk about style, specifically Style at Home - Does it Matter or Not?  This is prompted by a lovely and thoughtful comment on my blog post last week, in which I discussed my sewing goals for this year and I thought it would be a good point for discussion this week, as many of us spend time at home as we are homemakers, working from home, or otherwise homebased for a variety of reasons.  And I am sure we all feel a little lost about what to wear at times, as "home clothes" are not really the subject of many style books.  And the one I am currently reading almost dismisses this category of life,  in a nice sort of way, but still, we are out here, and we do count, and we want to look good as well.  And the black jacket, LBD, black pants, white top, cashmere sweater capsule formula is not really what most of us wear to put out the rubbish or do the gardening. And we people that work from home also tend to muck our chores in with our work - or I do at least!  I call it having a break!  Plus, of course, a bit of sewing at morning tea and lunchtime!

I wrote:

Retrospectively I have concentrated during  the last few years on making a lot of casual garments, because most of my life is in the ordinary to banally ordinary  category.  You know,  cooking, cleaning, shopping, garden jobs, putting out the bin and so on.  This was good in that I actually got a lot of sewing practice on garments that did not really matter, so to speak.  Occasionally I have made dressier garments, but still with an eye to ordinary life practicality.

And Marianne commented:

This morning I read your post over breakfast and I've been thinking about it ever since. The sentence: 'I actually got a lot of sewing practice on garments that did not really matter' kept echoing in my head. I feel the clothes we wear for our everyday life are the most important of all and should reflect our personality. I work from home and do lots of chores, gardening and dog walking and I find there are no limits to what I can wear, as long as it's washable. Boring jobs are more fun in exciting clothes! I think sewing pretty garments with lovely details to wear around the house is so rewarding. You've achieved so much, both professionally as in sewing. Managing a medical practice is an important job and you've encouraged lots of sewists by starting Make a Garment a Month (I still miss the blog). I know you don't like the Newcastle dress style, but why go with the flow if you don't like the flow? You deserve a style that will make you stand out and shine. Happy New Year to you and your husband!

Marianne, firstly I want to thank you for your comment, which of course in turn got me thinking.  Firstly, about what I wear and why.  If I wrote my whole style story here I am afraid it would take a very long time - suffice it to say, that I have not been in a position in life to always make clothes my priority.  Or perhaps more accurately, when there is a job to be done, I do it, and clothes then are not my priority.

So my clothes are more functional and practical than pretty and stylish.  Marianne finds boring  jobs more fun in  exciting clothes.  I don't.  I find boring jobs more exciting if I can take my imagination to unseen places, so maybe I need to factor that into my choice of clothes!  Of course, I have to reign this tendency in when I do serious stuff, but there is a very playful side to me as well.   So part of me is a bit like this, and I am not sure at all how to dress that sort of me!   Do you follow formula, such as I am a classic/natural/ feminine sort of thing, or do you dress for your lifestyle, or for the role you have to play,  and what is dressing for your personality anyway.  I think if I really dressed for my personality, I would scare people away, as I can be quite definite at times. But I am also empathetic, and find that I have to mask that in order to cope, especially where I live at the moment.  I am also an introvert, so straight away you will see I have gone into a mental exploration of this! Now, that does not mean I am shy and retiring, far from it, I know my mind well and can be assertive when needed, it's just I like my personal space). So how do you dress all these factors?  

Overall,  I found the structure of rules, such as those outlined by Wendy Mak, very handy and I will be referring to this later this year and perhaps re-assessing my sewing in line with it.  As well as exploring sewing more, as this will address  my need for stimulation and using my imagination from time to time.  But as for sitting down and working out key pieces and all sorts of things like that, for hours on end, is just not me at all.  I'd rather be sewing.  I jot ideas down, and add to them, and subtract and think of new ideas, and make lists of those, and somehow it all comes together.  And these ideas usually come when I am doing boring and tedious jobs!  However, Wendy Mak also makes the point that she is only styling a "typical" wardrobe of work wear, going out wear and weekend wear.  Not clothes for lounging at home or doing practical work in.  Now, I find that this is the big style question - those of us that tend to spend lots of time at home - do we wear weekend wear, work wear, going out wear, or that undefined lounging or chore work wear? Or is that an area that we have to define ourselves, once our lives are defined more by the space of the home. 

And  I suspect the main  point Marianne is making is  that our everyday lives have worth and validity, and that we deserve to make the most of ourselves, whatever it is that we have to do.   This I quite agree with, and this year I am going to attempt to alter my approach to clothes making to more accord with my reality of now.  And, to have explore different colours, styles and ideas to see what it is that I like, that sparks with some sort of inner me.  That will be quite a journey, and it will be interesting to see where it takes me.  Having been a uniform wearer for my earlier life, and then having to service a mortgage and pay for studies later in life, I have never really had the luxury of exploring different styles and fashions.  The rules, though, I know very well indeed!  Although I think some of them  are a little rigid and poorly thought through.  I will discuss that more later this year, I am sure, as well!  

As far as Home Based Style is concerned,  I am sure that many of you are in the same boat, where you have a home based life, but not a very well thought out approach to your style, because, well, you are just at home.  

So, I invite you to follow along this year as I stumble, explore and fumble my way through a range of styles with the hope of finding styles that I like that I can wear in  my very everyday life.

Thank you Marianne, for your gracious comment.

You can find Marianne's blog here:

Your comments: 

As you know, I am not really greatly fond of Blogger's comment system. and am trying to incorporate a different way of addressing your comments.  I may end up using Disquis, as at least you know I have read and replied to your comments.  I also think the blog world is changing, and that there is a whole audience of people reading blogs more like a magazine.  I value you too, and think it is a great privilege that you find my blog interesting enough to follow and read. Then the IG sewers, who look at blogs but comment on IG.  I find that my regular blog followers, who I consider friends, are not a large number, and I really want to respond to you all.

In the meantime, thank you for your comments on last weeks post - and Keisha, I agree, it's great to be able to get to know fellow sewers.  And Lisa, you are not alone!.  Anne, Dawn, Sharon, Lorna, Judy, Hana and Regina - thank you for your well wishes for 2017, warmly reciprocated and I look forward to sharing our sewing stories this year.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year - SarahLizSewStyle 2017.

Happy New Year Everyone...

We all seem to make new sewing resolutions on January 1 -  you know the sort of thing, I shall make all my own clothes, enter lots of sewing competitions, do SWAP in two weeks, etc, etc.  I was starting to fall into that way of thinking too, but stopped myself and asked myself what it is that I want to get from sewing this year.  Which amounted then to a period of introspection...and then I decided I didn't want a goals/plans 2017, but a themes/process/evolution of sewing and blogging during  2017.

Retrospectively I have concentrated during  the last few years on making a lot of casual garments, because most of my life is in the ordinary to banally ordinary  category.  You know,  cooking, cleaning, shopping, garden jobs, putting out the bin and so on.  This was good in that I actually got a lot of sewing practice on garments that did not really matter, so to speak.  Occasionally I have made dressier garments, but still with an eye to ordinary life practicality.

The only things I really need to make this year are cold weather things for my ordinary life - fleece garments for warmth in winter.  And I want a few interesting items, but nothing in particular except a pair of wide leg winter pants.

This being the case, I think this year I want to sew more  for fun, relaxation and learning.   I also want to explore patterns more and improve my sewing techniques.

This also will balance other things in life during a pre-retirement transition. which I am not really enjoying.  I have had to cease study, partly due to the cyclone of 2015, and partly due to the fact that I don't have the time and energy after doing all the domestic and practice support.  So I don't really feel I got far in my own life. Which is silly really, because I have been a Registered Nurse, completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons !), completed a Graduate Diploma in Psychology, have done all sorts of other things inbetween, (acting, radio voiceovers, running my own business, landlord).  I "chose" to  help my husband in his medical practice and don't really enjoy this at all, paperwork never having really been my thing, and I took over a back log of undone accounts and had no idea what to do !I don't like the invisible factor, you know, the good little wife, when I am quite capable in my own areas. But in Newcastle, there is no opportunity to do many of these things, in any case.  It's a regional area, pretty basic.    Of course, the pragmatic me who know about business and insurance and carrying risk etc made the decision to help, that and seeing DH need some very real help - choice is a rather strange word for the ability to accept reality and deal with it! And I can put some into the retirement pot -although with recent changes in Australia that is a long way off.  Plus we don't see ourselves as the retiring sort. I knew DH would not want to retire as he has built his entire identity around what he does (and he does it well and has a lot of experience).  And not having children or grandchildren (DH and I married well into my 40's)  also takes away what many people find as a source of meaning in life.  However, I know that I am not the only one in sewing land that faces these sorts of existential life  things, so I am not going to moan about this.  And I also know that many people suffer untold heartache with children as well.

Enough of the sentimental and lachrymose (isn't that a great word) and on with the Sewing!!

Sewing (and blogging about it)  is an expressive outlet for me, something I am good at, and something I enjoy to bring satisfaction to life and creates meaning.  I think it makes sense to develop this area, and it is also an achievable goal that "fits in" with the other parameters of life's realities. It's sort of a Way of Being Me within the contigencies of life. And because I have flexibility with my working arrangements, I also have the opportunity to pursue sewing related interests. And I have so enjoyed meeting all my fellow sewers out there in the internet sewing community.  Sometimes I let on that I am a Sewing Blogger, or a Blogging Sewer, and this tends to stymie conversation - but we all know, don't we, what a great community of sewers congregate on the internet.  There, that's better, I would rather be an optimist than a pessimist :).

The above book was a  Christmas gift from my husband - I issue him with a list of ideas to choose from!  And DH tends to think I am wonderful, sort of he couldn't do it without me, but I think he is a little biased. Suffice to say, he attends to the lists with great care!

It is a book written for students entering college courses.  It is not written for home dressmakers, but is geared for those who will be entering the industry.  It is a very technically written book, with lots of practical exercises. A real dry as a bone sort of read, matter of fact and to the point.

 I know much of  what is inside already, having once employed a lady who had been an industry  sample machinist (they are the most experienced in the industry).  She taught me a lot.  I also attended a technical college for a while before being told that I was already better suited to just getting out there and getting on with it.  Perhaps it was to do with my attitude - I really did not like having to ask to go to the toilet - I mean, I had worked as a professional for years as a Registered Nurse.

 So I did, but that is another and long story...which you may hear about one day (teasing you all :)).

However, there is much I felt I did not know, and I would like to start working on these areas.  This book is part of that plan, but I think it will take me all year to work through.

What else do I plan?

Perhaps I shall surprise you all and make things that are a little more fashion forward.  I found this lovely bright polka print and also found a picture by Armani featuring these colours in his garment.

Okay, it's only a Spotlight cotton poplin, but maybe my ordinary life garments could have a hint of designer inspiration behind them.  Or maybe I shall just use my imagination...

Or, I may plan a more coordinated approach and up my style - sort of a SWAP approach but on a more sustained basis:

I had a quick look last night, and Wendy uses the Stylist's approach - all neutrals.  And she makes the point that she is not doing sort of at home wear for chores etc.  Now, as a mere and ordinary person I find that I do quite a lot on the chore front, and as I work from home too, and tend to sort of do chores inbetween as a break,  I need to solve the problem of how to dress and how to look good. And she does explore colour, personality, body shape etc - but I will be, during the next year when I have time. Because I did train in these areas once upon a time and have tested one or two people who work in these areas, and have found that they do not always know the answers to the very specific questions I have asked.  For example, I am a soft, cool, light colouring (summer in the 80's terminology) and you are not supposed to wear black.  I state that I cannot find clothes and shoes to fit the parameters and have just been told that is what I have to do!!!  Umm, I think rules have to fit the person, not the other way around, and believe that if a person cannot find what is needed, then help them to work with what they can do and get.  Hopefully before the end of 2017 I will be able to talk about some of these things!  Back to Wendy's book - I think it does contain lots of wisdom on how to create a minimalist capsule wardrobe, and I think knowing her guidelines is very grounding for those of us that like to take off on flights of sewing fancy.

And of course, I plan to use and reduce my stash - but I say that every year.  But it really does need to be worked on.  It increased enormously last year, because my local Spotlight was rather overstocked, and lots of fabric went out for $2-00 to $4-00 a metre - including ponte knit.  So I did buy rather a lot. That means I need to reign in my budget this year to compensate.  Luckily I have a gift voucher for sewing things...And, problematically, Spotlight is within walking distance, so the temptation is always there to just take my daily walk past Spotlight...

It does mean, though, that my stash is now larger than I would want, so I shall enjoy shopping in it and whittling it down to size.  In between walks...and of course, I will think it a very good strategy to buy anything I have been looking for, have a pattern for, or is a very good price - after all, I am wanting a retirement stash.

Well, okay, I am a chronic stasher who is not going to stop...But I shall keep a record of stash in and stash out.  I shall not count the garment I am working on today, or the lovely 2 metre piece of cotton/linen fabric, total cost $7.20, that I found in the local Spotlight today.  Having my daily exercise, you understand...cheaper than the gym, buying stash...

I did make a garment a few weeks ago that was stash inspired and was also on my to do list:

I'll tell you about this pink skirt another time.  I also need to tell you about this top, made late last year:

In the meantime, I am working on muslins.  I have made four in the last week, plus a neck, arm, shoulders muslin.  I'm getting a little tired of muslins and sewing preparation:

The above is a simple top for myself that I plan to make, if things go according to plan that is, and sometimes they don't, out of a piece of cotton that has been haunting my stash for ages.  I'm using this Burda pattern, View A to the left, only with short sleeves:

I also plan to make a shirt and pants for my husband - this is where the four muslins came into play:

The first muslin of the shirt turned out to be a little small. The pants were okay, but a little baggy in the leg. That's an easy fix, but he needed more in the seat.  I haven't done this sort of pants alteration before, so I needed to redo the muslin to make sure. It took me ages working all this out, but well worth it.  If you are going to make something that someone else has to wear, it becomes more important to get it right.  I'll tell you more in a later blog post.

As for patterns, I have purchased so many on the sales we never used to have in Australia, that I really cannot buy any more.  By that, I mean that I have every pattern that I like, so really I only need to keep an eye on new pattern releases.  However, with the internet, I think I may buy Butterick/McCalls/Vogue patterns directly from the U.S. when they are on sale.  A little more expensive, but not much, and it means getting what you want when you want it.  It can be a little hit and miss buying patterns on sale here.  And I have finally stopped buying Burda magazines every month as I found I really don't find anything I would make in some issues, then in others, plenty. So I bu the magazines that have things I want to make inside - which makes sense.

And, as for knitting, I must start knitting now for the cooler months ahead.  I have always liked this top, but plan to make it in a plain colour:

Although I like the stripes too - I may have to check the stash and see what is in it and then decide.  Sometimes I do find it hard to make up my mind, although it probably does not seem that way to those of you who have followed me for  a while.  I actually have to impose my own structure and order on my mental meanderings, or absolutely nothing would be achieved in life, except for rich pictures in the interior of my mind!

That's it, that's enough reflection on themes  for 2017.  Lets just wait and see what  happens here at Sarah Liz Sew Style during 2017....

Back in a few days with my next blog post, and I shall resume replies to your comments then.

In the meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR. I look forward to your company during 2017.

Sarah Liz